A Theory of the Drone
Overview - Drone warfare has raised profound ethical and constitutional questions both in the halls of Congress and among the U.S. public. Not since debates over nuclear warfare has American military strategy been the subject of discussion in living rooms, classrooms, and houses of worship. Read more...
More About A Theory of the Drone by Gregoire Chamayou; Janet Lloyd
Drone warfare has raised profound ethical and constitutional questions both in the halls of Congress and among the U.S. public. Not since debates over nuclear warfare has American military strategy been the subject of discussion in living rooms, classrooms, and houses of worship. Yet as this groundbreaking new work shows, the full implications of drones have barely been addressed in the recent media storm.
In a unique take on a subject that has grabbed headlines and is consuming billions of taxpayer dollars each year, philosopher Gregoire Chamayou applies the lens of philosophy to our understanding of how drones are changing our world. For the first time in history, a state has claimed the right to wage war across a mobile battlefield that potentially spans the globe. Remote-control flying weapons, he argues, take us well beyond even George W. Bush's justification for the war on terror.
What we are seeing is a fundamental transformation of the laws of war that have defined military conflict as between combatants. As more and more drones are launched into battle, war now has the potential to transform into a realm of secretive, targeted assassinations of individuals--beyond the view and control not only of potential enemies but also of citizens of democracies themselves. Far more than a simple technology, Chamayou shows, drones are profoundly influencing what it means for a democracy to wage war. A Theory of the Drone
will be essential reading for all who care about this important question.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
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Having created a stir with his 2012 title, Manhunts: A Philosophical History, Chamayou, research scholar at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, delivers a philosophical investigation into the subject of drones, revealing many insights to readers willing to put in the work. Chamayou stresses that unmanned aircraft armed with missiles have converted war from a duel between two fighters to a simple manhunt: “People die but only on one side.” The U.S., a nation that cherishes soldiers’ lives perhaps too much, now trains more drone operators than pilots of fighters and bombers combined. Drone warfare led the U.S. to discard its commitment to counterinsurgency—which aimed to win over a population—and replace it with an antiterrorism policy that simply aimed to kill insurgents. Chamayou warns repeatedly of the moral hazards involved, and emphasizes that allowing actions to be taken without consequences encourages riskier behavior (in the case of drones, riskier to those where drones are operating). He suggests that as the U.S. enthusiastically smites supposed enemies in nations where we are officially at peace (Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen), it slides well down that slippery slope. Chamayou has produced a thought-provoking reference for scholars and military officers, but it’s heavy going for the general reader. (Jan.)